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Extreme weather forces unprepared Europe to focus on climate adaptation

Extreme weather forces unprepared Europe to focus on climate adaptation

There remains considerable variability across the region in terms of exactly how adaptation is addressed, but a common way for member states to tackle climate adaptation is to mainstream it into national and sectoral planning processes. In concrete terms, this means addressing heatwaves, flooding, drought or other climate extremes in policy making related to various sectors including agriculture and forestry, maritime, inland waters and coastal management, energy, disaster risk prevention and management, urban planning, research, biodiversity , migration and mobility, health and the environment. Examples of this approach in practice are varied and widespread. Here is a flavor of what’s happening across Europe:

Agriculture: Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region boasts more than 84,000 farms covering around 1 million hectares invested. A third of these farms include irrigated land. Water scarcity and droughts are already increasing in the region, and climate change is expected to worsen the situation, significantly reducing the amount of water available for agriculture. In 2019, the region introduced Irrinet, a web service advising farmers on efficient water management.

Urban planning: Barcelona is Spain’s second most populated city with 1.6 million inhabitants. The city is already suffering from many climate change impacts common to the Mediterranean region, including rising temperatures and heat waves, reduced water availability, drought, and increased flooding due to irregular and torrential rain. The city’s Barcelona Nature Plan 2030 sets out to increase green spaces and tree coverage to temper the climate conditions, and help prevent local flooding.

Transportation: Sea level rise and more extreme storms and cloudbursts are exacerbating the flooding risk for the underground in the Danish capital, Copenhagen. Following a climate change adaptation strategyfrom the city’s metro company Metroselskabet, work has been carried out to ensure runoff water does not flood underground stations, and floodgates, pumps and waterproof walls have been installed. The measures are aimed at keeping the metro running during extreme weather events, and keeping passengers safe.

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